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IPFS News Link • Whistleblowers

The Crucifixion of Julian Assange

• https://www.unz.com, CHRIS HEDGES

Prosecutors representing the United States, whether by design or incompetence, refused — in the two-day hearing I attended in London in February — to provide guarantees that Julian Assange would be afforded First Amendment rights and would be spared the death penalty if extradited to the U.S.

The inability to give these assurances all but guaranteed that the High Court — as it did on Tuesday — would allow Julian's lawyers to appeal. Was this done to stall for time so that Julian would not be extradited until after the U.S. presidential election? Was it a delaying tactic to work out a plea deal? Julian's lawyers and U.S. prosecutors are discussing this possibility. Was it careless legal work? Or was it to keep Julian locked in a high security prison until he collapses mentally and physically?

If Julian is extradited, he will stand trial for allegedly violating 17 counts of the 1917 Espionage Act, with a potential sentence of 170 years, along with another charge for "conspiracy to commit computer intrusion" carrying an additional five years.

The court will permit Julian to appeal minor technical points — his basic free speech rights must be honored, he cannot be discriminated against on the basis of his nationality and he cannot be under threat of the death penalty.

No new hearing will allow his lawyers to focus on the war crimes and corruption that WikiLeaks exposed. No new hearing will permit Julian to mount a public-interest defense. No new hearing will discuss the political persecution of a publisher who has not committed a crime.

The court, by asking the U.S. for assurances that Julian would be granted First Amendment rights in the U.S. courts and not be subject to the death penalty, offered the U.S. an easy out — give the guarantees and the appeal is rejected.